AKA: I finally ran a 2 hour half marathon!!!!!!!!
Ok sorry, no subtlety there =) But you guys know how long and hard I've been working for a 2 hour half marathon and how much it means to me (even though I always said "sub 2 hour," I still consider this a win!!).
Ok, on to the recap...
My goal going into this race was pure and simple: enjoy myself. Of course I wanted to run fast, but I also wanted to run strong and feel good. Afterall, what good is succeeding in something if you hate every minute of it? Jordan said it perfectly:
I'd say this race could be broken into three parts: the first 5k, the last 5k, and everything in between. Supposedly, this is Charlotte's largest road race (though I'm not convinced). The half marathon and 5k started at the same time and there was nothing resembling a wave start.
If you're a walker, get your butt to the BACK of the freaking start line! I feel better now.
It was a chilly 30 something at the start. Have I mentioned yet how done I am with winter? Luckily, I found some big dudes (and ladies) to inconspicuously stand awkwardly close to before the gun went off.
My Garmin didn't end up getting signal until half way through the first mile (Garmin FAIL). I suppose that was ok though, since the roads were pretty congested (ehemmm.... walkers!). I ran with my running buddy for about 10 feet before we said adios to each other.
I spent the first three miles basically warming up and trying to slow down. It took a lot of self restraint not to hop and skip around the slower runners in front of me. I was also feeling full of energy since Gail told me to take two days off preceding the half (and that lady is a little speed demon, so I took her advice!). I was also reminding myself my goal was NOT to go sub-2... my goal was to ENJOY myself.
Shortly after mile 3, the crowd thinned considerably with the 5kers peeling off. After we lost them, I started preparing myself for the first hill.
Charlotte isn't terribly hilly, but it's not entirely flat either. One Charlotte road race's motto is "flat is for sissies..." if that gives you any idea. I didn't think this first hill was so bad, but I wasn't getting cocky just yet.
As we ran through downtown Charlotte and its suburbs, I started to relax and enjoy the city that I've come to love so much. It was a gorgeous day, the trees were full of blooms, and I felt awesome.
There was another substantial hill at mile 7, which took a bit out of me. I was keeping an 8:30 pace, so I figured a short walk break would help me more than losing my energy to the climb would.
I was perfectly on pace to finish in 2 hours, but I didn't get my hopes up- the last 5k of this race has a reputation of being pretty tough.
Miles 8-10 were pretty unexciting. I cheesed it up for the camera guy, was eating my chomps like I was suppose to, and thanking every police officer and volunteer I could for being out there. At one point, a guy told me I looked too happy.
At mile 10, the clock read 1:33. I knew if I could keep my pace, I could finish in 2 hours. For the first time, I let myself hope. Maybe today would be the day? But I was getting really tired, and I knew the megatron hills were waiting for me.
Mile 11 came in at 8:59. Holla!
Mile 12 brought the worst of the hills- nearly the entire mile was an incline (talk about soul sucking...). As I reached mile 13, I told myself the worst was behind me. All I needed to do now was run my little heart out and let the time take care of itself.
For some demoralizing reason, the race course ended on a gradual uphill. I could see the finish line and could hear the people cheering me on (my UF shirt and bright blue socks got me lots of attention) but I was sucking wind so hard I could barely turn my head to acknowledge them.
I saw the clock tick past 2:00:50, and knew I wasn't going to get a clock time of 2 hours. Knowing my chip time would cut some seconds off, I gritted my teeth and gunned it. I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:00:20.
A volunteer held out my medal, but I think my greenly tinted face told her I wasn't going to be able to grab it right away. She put it over my head as I tried not to toss my cookies all over her feet.
My Garmin stats (minus the first .5 miles)-
I headed back to cheer on the other runners as I waited for Lynn. She ended up running a a great race- finishing just over 2:30!!
We headed back inside to grab some grub from Great Harvest Bread company and listened to the awards ceremony (more like laugh at them... people are ridiculously fast in Charlotte!).
I could get all mushy and sentimental about how hard I worked to get a 2 hour half (a year in the making) and how thrilled I am that I finally achieved my goal... but words can't express my happiness. To understand something like this, you have to experience it for yourself. You have to want something so bad that you work your butt off to get it. Once you achieve your goal, then you know what a true sense of accomplishment is.
Half marathon? You have been OWNED!